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Gringos en la Selva | Nourish International

May 13, 2013 | Posted in 2013, Dominican Republic, Summer Projects, UF | By

We have been in the Dominican Republic for about a week now and there are already so many stories to tell and so much work we have started! Our first night here we stayed in a beautiful house in the mountains. You wouldn’t even realize you left home unless you looked outside and saw that you were actually in the middle of nowhere starring blindly at the mountain tops. It wasn’t until the next day that our real third world experience would begin.

 

The next afternoon we were introduced to El Llano, the small, rural village in the mountain tops where we would spending the majority of our time for the next six weeks. The people of this small, but proud village are extremely humble and don’t have much to offer, but give whatever they can. We were later greeted by our host families in the homes we would be living in for our time here in the Dominican Republic. Jackie and I were greeted at the door of a small wooden house with hot food on the stove by a women named Mercedes. She proudly exclaimed that her house was our house and that she would be our new Dominican mother. Even without our first world conveniences, we have never felt unwelcome in Mercedes’ home which is something Jackie and I are truly grateful for. However, we soon realized that that the real challenges would present themselves the next day when our work with the people of El Llano began.

 

Our work here consists of two main parts: successfully start a bakery with the women of the community and teach computer literacy skills to all the young people as well as how to operate Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel for professional use. On the side we help teach English classes and assist with whatever pre-school activities Rita and Diego (the coordinators of a Mother’s Wish Foundation) need help with. At first we had no idea what to expect from any of the activities, however the challenges we will face presented themselves almost instantly. While extremely motivated to open a bakery, the women of EL Llano have never baked a day in their lives. To make matters even more difficult, none of them have any knowledge of or how to calculate, revenue, profit, and overhead costs. While this may seem discouraging, the five of us are extremely dedicated to properly training everyone involved with the bakery and hopefully we will be able to reach our goal of starting production by week three. The computer classes came with their own set of unique challenges, the main one being that everybody we are attempting to teach are on completely different levels. Some students know how to type and operate the basic functions of Microsoft word, while others did not even know how to use the space bar of a keyboard. We have attempted to solve this problem by splitting the classes up into three levels (advanced, intermediate, and beginner) and assigning different lessons for each level. Hopefully all goes well next week.

 

Finally, our trip hasn’t been all work and no play. We have had some rather interesting experiences on our Dominican adventure. Alcohol is really big in this country, and when I say big I mean it. There has not been not one recreational event that we have been to where Presidente (the national beer) and Brugal (the national rum) have not been readily available. Cock fighting, baseball games, and parties featuring local tipico music are just a sample of the various activities we have taken part in. On Saturday night we decided to take a night off and go to a party in the woods. We had such a good time dancing to the local music. It was a really good way for us to bond as a team.

 

Anyways, I’m sure we will have plenty more stories to tell next week. I have uploaded a few photos of Mercedes’ house and the computer classes! Until next week, hasta luego!

-Alexis

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